Everyone who matters in India knows everyone else. While that may
sound like the intellectually-challenged rambling of a society or Page 3 editor, it is actually one of the main criticisms of the capitalist model that this country adopted in the 1980s.
The reasoning is that the benefits of economic development, and the opportunities presented by this, are largely reaped by a closed group of individuals and companies. Some people call this oligarchy. Others call it crony capitalism.
Anyone who has been following events of the past few weeks regarding the Indian Premier League (IPL), Lalit Modi, Sharad Pawar, Shashi Tharoor, Praful Patel, Supriya Sule, Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, World Sports Group, Rajasthan Royals, Sadanand Sule, N. Srinivasan, the Board of Control for Cricket in India…will realize the extent to which this seems to be true of the league.
And, as far as the IPL is concerned, it doesn’t even seem to be six degrees of separation—the famous connectedness theory claims that two individuals can be linked through, at most, six steps— but one or two in most cases. This, before most entrepreneurs cleaned up their acts, was how business used to be done in this country. And this, as we are realizing, is how the business of cricket still seems to be done in India.
To be sure, not all of the allegations that have been aired can be proved, but they do seem to have activated various investigation agencies which are looking into how the IPL did business. Some people believe this is just the government’s way of getting back at IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and his patron and National Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. The NCP is an ally of the Congress which heads the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre but this has always been an uneasy alliance. Others believe the government is merely trying to clean up a league, and a game that the country is obsessed with.
If that’s indeed the case, Acute Angle would like to offer the government some suggestions on how this can be done. For starters, no politician should be allowed to head a state-level or Central association or board that administers cricket. Then, no one who is part of a body that administers the sport should be allowed to own a team in the Indian Premier League. Allowing this would be a bit like making the CEO of a telco the head of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. And, finally, all cricket boards, associations, and leagues should avoid transactions with so-called related or interested parties.
If these three rules had been in place, much of the controversy surrounding IPL could have been avoided. Then, something tells me, it couldn’t have been as simple as this.